Nikon and Canon and video and upcoming products

Started Apr 3, 2010 | Discussions thread
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bob elkind
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Nikon and Canon and video and upcoming products
Apr 3, 2010

As a few of you already know, I'm working on bringing my first product design to market. It's a SLR accessory. As part of my job as owner/designer/janitor/marketing VP, I've spent some time recently re-calibrating the planned feature set with the pro video community. As brilliant as I already am, I must say my eyes have been opened, and I've learned quite a bit.

One thing is clear: video in SLRs is here to stay for the foreseeable future, and Nikon will need to (and want to) get in the market. This means that if a Nikon rep tells you that Nikon is not distracted by video from still imaging, or that design resources are working on video stuff only when and if their still image work is completed, the fellow is either clueless or just telling you what s/he thinks you want to hear.

Here is a post (written by a former Tek/Grass Valley Group colleague, by the way) which puts a fine point on the matter:

SHOPPER "Should I buy the Nikon or the Canon? What do you think?"
BUDDY "Will you shoot video?"
SHOPPER "It's really for photos, but I might shoot some video here and there"

BUDDY "Canon is the only choice for video. Nikon is way behind on video. For photos, both make great products."
SHOPPER "Okay. I'll get the Canon then..."
ME: I think video matters.

Along my travels, I've talked with a number of pro photographers who have a similar story, that the still image business has been tightening up for anyone who isn't a rock star photographer, and the film/video business seems to be growing. Hence, these pros have been learning the video business to adapt with the times.

The 5DMk2 is far and away the preferred camera. The 7D is up and coming. The customer segment buying them for pro use include both still shooters moving to video, and 'big iron' videographers flocking to the smaller/cheaper/better SLR platform.

The family guys occasionally shooting video with their D90, they aren't the issue. What's at stake is the high end. D700 and up. D300 is affected, but still borderline.

If you're a pro in the market for a next gen body, the differences between Nikon and Canon for video support are much greater than the distinguishing differences between the two for classic still imaging. Video can't be ignored by all but a few shooters, even if they currently shoot stills exclusively. Nikon's weaker video features has (and still does) cost them business, simply because they haven't pursued the video market aggressively enough. It's not enough to say your products do video, you need to be competitive in the market.

Granted, the market will mature enough at some point that SLR sensor video and SLR still cameras will bifurcate, they will split into distinct products which emphasize their distinct primary missions. But that hasn't happened yet.

So, I personally believe that Canon is proud of their hold on the video SLR business, that they are aggressively supporting and defending it, and they are paying more attention to the needs and concerns of video customers than to their traditional customer base of still shooters. Nikon will need to do the same -- they will need to listen more closely to video pros than still image pros -- is they want to stay competitive in the high end SLR market. Notice, I did not say 'SLR video market'.

Canon has not yet slammed the door on the SLR video market. There are some compelling features missing from Canon's products -- features without any technological hurdles whatsoever -- which would overnight turn the SLR video business upside down. If Canon gets there first, it's going to be tough times for Nikon's market share at the high end. If Nikon gets there first, it will change the game.

So, the points of this essay are:

  • video from SLR is here to stay

  • video is a market driver at the high end of the market

  • SLR video market is still very immature, evolving

  • there are still market opportunities for Nikon, but the market door could slam shut at any time

  • even if you don't have an interest in SLR video, it will affect your next gen body

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Bob Elkind

Family, mostly sports. Seriously, folks, I'm not that good. If I can do it, you can do it!
photo galleries at http://eteam.zenfolio.com
my relationship with my camera is strictly photonic

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Nikon D700 Canon EOS 500D Nikon D600 Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D +5 more
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